Riverlea Theatre, 83 Riverlea Rd, Hillcrest, Hamilton

27/09/2013 - 05/10/2013

Hamilton Fringe 2013

Production Details

The Remote Fiction Theatre, in co-production with Riverlea Theatre, presents Plains, being staged as a part of the 2013 Hamilton Fringe Festival.  A play by New Zealand author Harry Meech, that won the 2008 Playmarket New Zealand Young Playwright’s Award and has since been developed to its completed form with the assistance of expert dramaturgs. 

Plains is a Post-Apocalyptic comedy, funniest when it isn’t, and darkest when it is; equal parts Beckett and Monty PythonPlains is a play that deals with the end of everything, in that wry, distinctly New Zealand way, with a warped smile and a chuckle.  Stylistically Plains is unflinchingly Absurdist, and its dialogue and characters reflect this. 

Seven characters pepper the narrative with tiny interactions, moments of absurd significance in the face of their certain finality.  Satchel, Lilly, Stripes, Dana, Cherry, Hornby … and God.  Sort of.  Maybe.

In staging our performance we have sought to acknowledge the fundamental point of difference between a film and a theatrical experience – that the actor and the audience share a space.  At the Remote Fiction Theatre we have adopted the attitude that our audience not only enjoy and watch our performances but are themselves a fundamental part of the overall experience.  This establishes a deformalised theatrical space, where the audience are invited to enjoy the fact of their own presence, encouraging the social aspect of live performance. 

The Remote Fiction Theatre is a company founded on the principles of continual actor development and training.  Primarily this is achieved through a disciplined system of Dynamic Conditioning, developed initially by Plains Director Nick Sturgess-Monks, as an element of research for an MA in Directing for Theatre at the University of Waikato.  This system targets actors at the pre-expressive level, to extend their potential field of movement, and range within it.  After the actors are familiar with individual body work, this is extended to the voice and to the ensemble.  Our actors take part in two months of intensive physical, vocal and ensemble conditioning prior to dealing with scripts.  This conditioning is then continued throughout the rehearsal process, though at a far less intensive level.  Our actors have been preparing for Plains for approximately seven months. 

The play is being directed by local Director Nick Sturgess-Monks, Artistic Director & Co-founder of the Remote Fiction Theatre.  This will be the first time that the play has been staged at its full length in New Zealand, having had one staging previously in the US. 

27th and 28th of September, and the 3rd, 4th and 5th of October,
during this year’s Hamilton Fringe Festival,
at Riverlea Theatre. 
Doors open at 7.50pm each nights and the show will start at 8pm,
with an approximately 90 minute run time, plus a 15 minute intermission. 

Bookings through iTicket,

We have a Facebook page at, followers can gain access to a host of behind-the-scenes and supplementary videos, photography and art here. 

Cast (in order of appearance): 
Satchel:  Antony Aiono 
Lilly:  Alice Kennedy 
God:  Mary Rinaldi 
Stripes:  Clare McDonald 
Dana:  Amanda Wallace 
Cherry:  Rebekah Sarah Barea 
Hornby:  Will Collin

Production Team: 
Producer:  Mary Rinaldi 
Stage Manager:  Damian Brown 
Costume & Props designer:  Deborah Lanning 
Musician:  Matthew Hoyes 
Lighting Operation:  Sebastian
Make-up & Hair:  Jane Spenceley & Rachel Clarke
Set Builder:  Rick Cave 
Marketing:  Katey Good 
Videographer:  Mitchell Botting 
Front of House:  Megan Pritchard 

Outlandish but mind-blowing

Review by Liza Kire 27th Sep 2013

Plains is a must-see thriller/comedy that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat aching for clarity. A contemporary show from a script by Harry Meech that is open to eclectic treatment provided the dialogue remains intact (“It’s a gift. A bonus. You’re welcome!”), it will leave you thinking but not knowing. If you’re a person who doesn’t need closure, or is OK with feeling like you only know half the story, then Plains will give you that.

Director Nick Sturgees-Monks has achieved what he set out to do with this thrilling play which follows the stories of two different characters and their interactions with others they come across in a post-apocalyptic world. Although it starts off with a slow and very confusing pace, if you don’t stray and stay focused it will all make sense in the end. 

God (Mary Rinaldi) has decided to end the world on Christmas Day. A really annoying and seedy character, God is constantly taunting Satchel (Antony Aiono), an almost demonic type who seems to have lost his wits and has turned to eating humans in order to survive the chaos. Aiono’s performance is very captivating, with an honest and scary look in his eye that would convince you that he may just eat you if you’re not careful.

Satchel’s storyline confuses me for a bit but I get there in the end. I appreciate his character starts out murderous and crazy, begging God to let him die but to no avail. As the show goes on you begin to see a different side of him and understand that he’s still a lovable guy but the apocalypse has turned him into a desperate man. 

Enter Lilly (Alice Kennedy): a beautiful young woman who is a typical survivor type; the kind you’d find with hiking gear and always so full of hope and seemingly normal. After accidentally stumbling across and then fighting with Satchel, she leaves, taking what supplies she can, and sets off on the classic survivor adventure. Kennedy plays a very believable winner, very clear and never distracted from the job required of her.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the show is the supporting cast members you meet along the way. Amanda Wallace portrays Dana, a person I see a lot of myself in. I assume if you were saved then kicked out of your haven, you would start to lose a few marbles and go crazy as well. There is always one crazy in every ‘end-of-the-world’ story and she is as crazy as they come.  

Wallace’s portrayal of someone at the cusp of normal and insane is at times so convincing I forget she’s only acting. She actually creeps me right out and I can’t get over the fact that she never falls asleep although she is lying on the stage for a good hour doing nothing. 

Stripes (Clare McDonald), is an upper class kind of character for whom Satchel used to cook. Their interactions and the story of their surviving together makes for a very interesting twist in Satchel’s story line.

The old couple, Hornby (Will Collin) and Cherry (Rebekah Barea), offer much-needed comic relief amid the confusion one faces when watching this show. Hilarious and disgusting all rolled into a small scene, yet they are probably the most memorable.

The biggest shock you may get from watching Plains could be due to the amount of audience interaction that takes place: a strategic move by the director to remind people there are things theatre can do that you can’t experience when watching film. It forces you to be engaged and bridges the gap between audience and performers. It allows the audience to be a part of the show.

The season is running between Fri 27th – Sat 5th Oct so make sure you head to Riverlea Theatre to experience something outlandish but mind-blowing.


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